What Are The Differences Between Kickboxing VS Boxing?

Last Updated on October 21, 2023 by Alex PT

Kickboxing and boxing involve two opponents fighting in a ring with gloves on, but kickboxing allows fighters to use their legs and knees to strike their opponent, while boxing only allows punches. Another key difference is that kickboxing is typically more aerobic than boxing.

Kickboxing VS Boxing – Differences 

Kickboxing VS Boxing Differences 

Fighting Techniques 

The fighting techniques of the two sports are different and unique. Boxing allows only arm techniques while kickboxing allows both arm and foot techniques. Kickboxing has a different approach, movements, and positions to combat since it requires fighters to attack and defend against punches and leg attacks as well. The punching techniques of the same sport are the same thing. They both involve the use of uppercuts, jabs, and hooks with some divergences such as overhand punches. 

When you’re watching a kickboxing fight, you’ll notice that a fighter might sometimes make a spinning back fist shot which is never allowed in boxing. Kick involvements in kickboxing mean that fighters need to move quickly in and out of shots. Concerning the stance during a fight, a boxer knows the exact point he needs to stand to avoid getting hit by a punch from the waist up. A kickboxer, however, needs to be in a stance to avoid both punches and leg kicks from their whole body.

Movement Differences

Kickboxing requires more tactical movements because fighters get longer reach with their feet than they do with punches. When you’re practicing kickboxing, you’ll get to learn about defending low kicks. Don’t forget that a fighter will have the upper hand over his opponent when there’s a wrong move that gives room for a few decent shots. That’s why kickboxers keep a greater distance when they are guarding as they make use of quick jams and in-and-out sharp movements to minimize damage. That’s not the case with boxing since there’s a limited area to cover. Boxing doesn’t allow any under-waist strike so it is not quite easy to attack the defense of your opponent by getting a hit for it. 

Rules Differences

The first rule difference between the two sports is that boxing only permits the use of arm techniques, while kickboxing allows fighters to use both arm and foot techniques. But that’s not all. There’s more.

 Kickboxing allows certain elbow strikes that will get a fighter disqualified from boxing. Boxing has a total of 12 rounds in which each round lasts only 3 minutes. However, winners of the fight can be determined before the 12th round if one fighter knocks out his opponent. If there’s no winner after the 12th round, the judge decides the winner by the accumulated score in each round. 

In kickboxing, there’s a total of 3 to 10 rounds in which each round lasts only 2-3 minutes each with a one-minute rest in between rounds. The rules of equipment are straightforward. Boxers wear boxing boots and gloves, while kickboxers fight barefoot with elastic bandages to support ankles.   

The Table Below Contains The Major Differences Between Kickboxing And Boxing

Criteria KickboxingBoxing
Short DescriptionKickboxing is a form of combat sport that involves the use of feet and arm techniquesBoxing is a form of combat sport that involves the use of fist or arm techniques alone. Boxers fight with padded gloves in a roped square ring.
AdventKickboxing originated from JapanTraditional boxing originated from Greece, while modern-day boxing was originated from America
Fighting Techniques Kicks, punches, and jabs are all allowed during a fightPunches, jabs, and blocks are only during a fight
Valuable TechniquesContinuous kicking, boxing, and striking are engaged as valuable techniques in the sportClinching, Circling, and Left Jab are engaged as valuable techniques in the sports 
DucklingIn kickboxing, you’re not allowed to duck low or move away with your feetIn boxing, you’re allowed to duck low or move away with your feet
Body Parts EngagedKickboxing allows the use of both hands and feetBoxing only allows the use of hands
RestrictionsThere are limited restrictions in kickboxing. You can strike your opponent anywhereYou can not strike your opponent on his throat or below the belt
Advantages Of Other PartsKickboxing originated in JapanYou can only use your hands to throw punches
OlympicsKickboxing is not part of the Olympic sportsBoxing is one of the major parts of Olympic sports. 
Associations WAKO: World Association of Kickboxing Organizations.WKO: World Kickboxing AssociationIKF: International Kickboxing FederationIBF: International Boxing FederationWBA: World Boxing AssociationWBC: World Boxing CouncilWBO: World Boxing Organization 

Which Is Better: Boxing or Kickboxing?

1. Technique and Discipline

Boxing: This sport focuses only on punching, requiring practitioners to master a variety of punches such as jabs, hooks, crosses, and uppercuts. Precise footwork, careful strategy, and efficient use of defensive maneuvers are critical.

Kickboxing: This discipline incorporates both kicks and punches, providing a more extensive range of techniques. Also, some kickboxing disciplines may include knee strikes and elbow strikes, adding to the complexity and versatility of the sport.

2. Physical Conditioning

Boxing: Boxing is a splendid cardiovascular workout that builds up upper body strength, explosiveness, and endurance. However, it does not engage the lower body to the same degree.

Kickboxing: Kickboxing provides a total body workout, engaging both the upper and lower body. The kicking elements strengthen the core and lower body, while the punching elements work the upper body areas.

3. Self-Defense

Boxing: Boxing techniques can certainly be used for self-defense, focusing on evasion and powerful, accurate punches. However, they offer no defense against leg-based attacks or ground fighting.

Kickboxing: Kickboxing offers a more well-rounded self-defense approach due to its inclusion of both punching and kicking techniques. Some styles even emphasize treating the legs as additional arms, extending your reach and striking variety.

4. Accessibility

Boxing: Boxing clubs are widely available, and the sport has a simpler learning curve due to the focus on punches and footwork alone.

Kickboxing: While kickboxing gyms may not be as prevalent, the sport’s growing popularity means it is increasingly widely available. Kickboxing, however, may take longer to master due to the diversity of techniques.

5. Viewer Appeal

Boxing: Boxing matches tend to be strategic, slower-paced affairs, matching strength and wits. The sport has a rich historical tradition and has produced many famous athletes.

Kickboxing: Kickboxing matches are generally more fast-paced and dynamic, likely to appeal to those who enjoy a wide variety of techniques and movements. The sport is growing in popularity, especially in Southeast Asia.

In conclusion, neither boxing nor kickboxing is inherently better than the other. It ultimately depends on one’s personal preference, physical condition, availability, and objective. Both sports offer robust forms of physical fitness and discipline, and both are high-energy, dynamic practices.

Should I Learn Boxing or Kickboxing?

Deciding between learning boxing or kickboxing depends on your goals, preferences, and fitness needs. Here’s a detailed comparison to help you make an informed choice:

  1. Fitness and Cardiovascular Health:
    • Boxing: Boxing provides an excellent cardiovascular workout primarily focused on upper body conditioning. It involves intense rounds of punching, footwork, and defensive maneuvers. This can enhance your endurance and core strength.
    • Kickboxing: Kickboxing involves punches and kicks, engaging a wider range of muscle groups. It’s a more comprehensive full-body workout, improving both upper and lower body strength and endurance. If you want an efficient total-body workout, kickboxing might be more suitable.
  2. Self-Defense:
    • Boxing: Boxing emphasizes mastering punching techniques and defensive skills, making it valuable for self-defense, especially in one-on-one situations.
    • Kickboxing: Kickboxing teaches both striking with hands and feet, which can be advantageous in a self-defense scenario where you may need to keep a distance from your attacker.
  3. Competition and Sport:
    • Boxing: Boxing has a long history as a competitive sport with numerous weight classes and regulations. If you aspire to compete or spar with others, boxing is the traditional choice.
    • Kickboxing: Kickboxing also offers competitive opportunities, with different rule sets like Muay Thai and American Kickboxing. If you’re interested in versatility and variety, kickboxing might be more appealing.
  4. Injury Risk:
    • Boxing: While both sports carry some risk of injury, boxing primarily exposes the head and upper body to punches. It’s important to use proper protective gear and train under supervision to minimize the risk.
    • Kickboxing: Kickboxing introduces additional potential for lower body injuries, such as leg or knee injuries due to kicks. Careful training and protective equipment are essential.
  5. Personal Preferences:
    • Consider your personal interests and what excites you more. Some people prefer the striking variety of kickboxing, while others appreciate the precision and art of boxing.
  6. Instructor and Facility:
    • Find a reputable gym or instructor in your area for either discipline. A good teacher can make a significant difference in your learning experience.
  7. Cost and Equipment:
    • Compare the cost of classes and required equipment. Boxing may require less equipment, mainly gloves and hand wraps, while kickboxing might need additional gear for kicks, like shin guards and specialized footwear.


For a better understanding of the differences between boxing and kickboxing, we’ve composed a list of frequently asked questions and answers. 

Is Kickboxing Safer Than Boxing?

If we are going to answer this question through the injury rate, boxing is safer. Kickboxing has an injury rate of 2.5 injuries per hour, which is really high especially when compared to the boxing injury rate of 17.1 injuries per 100 matches. Boxing is safer because there are reduced hits from the arm and feet as used in kickboxing. 

Is Boxing Or Kickboxing Better For MMA?

Choosing between kickboxing and boxing for MMA depends on your preferences. Kickboxing generally offers you more fighting techniques but you should be ready to dedicate time to train to a high level of proficiency which combines kicking and punches.

Is Kickboxing Good In Street Fights?

Kickboxing teaches you a lot of fighting techniques and movements other than just throwing punches and kicks. You will get to know how to take and absorb kicks, hits, and punches, which helps to equip you for real-life fighting situations. Being a kickboxer will give you the extra confidence of evading any attack from real-life opponents. 

Is Kickboxing Good For Females?

Women who practice kickboxing will get a toned and physically fit body structure.  It is combat training that will help women with a total-body workout. A total body, in turn, helps with body flexibility, burning calories, coordination improvement, and cardiovascular fitness enhancement. 

Closing Thought – Wrapping It Up! 

Just like we stated above, the main disparity between the two sports is that kickboxing focuses on fighting with both hands and feet while boxing only focuses on fighting with the hands alone. Furthermore, kickboxers are allowed to punch and kick their opponents. Boxers are only allowed to punch, jam, and block. We’ve come to the final chapter of this informative article. We hope you were able to find good and reliable resources in your quest to know the differences between boxing and martial arts. If you have any questions or comments about the article topic, don’t hesitate to contact us. Thanks!



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